Meet Sports Agent, Rob London

Any true sports fan is not only a fan of what happens on the field, but the entire sports industry intrigues us. An industry that has a high amount of African American players, but a scarce amount of African Americans that manage their careers. I was excited when I was introduced to Robert London, VP Sports and Entertainment at Dow Lohnes over twitter and was able to get him on the phone to pick his brain about the agency side of sports. Listen to the full interview here and key points are transcribed below.

Eb- What does being the VP of Sports and Entertainment entail?
RL- Wow do you have all day? No uuumm...Basically its making sure that all of our NFL Client's brands are protected. We have to create his brand and create his persona, so we do a lot with trying to match certain companies up with players that meet his personality, his style, and meets his look. Every brand has a specific look and we try to make sure each client has a branding look.

Eb- Who are some clients you represent?
RL-Jackson Jaguars starting RB Maurice Jones-Drew;

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte, total we represent about 25 NFL guys.

Eb-How do you go about pitching a new client? Is it based solely on talent?
RL- I don't like to sign guys or deal with guys who I'm going to have to get a call from at 2 in the morning. I don't like the whole "hey can you come pick me up from jail." I'll do anything I need to do for my clients and they know that, but I approach certain types of guys. For instance, guys that have a solid family background, you know what you're going to get with some of those guys. You find out who players really are when you give them a whole bunch of money. You see a player that's drafted in the 1st round several years ago that played CB, he had gotten into some trouble in college and since he went in the 1st round he got 13 million dollars. He's the same person. Now you see who he really is, he thinks he's above the law, thinks he's better than everybody else, he gets in trouble, he's throwing up money in the strip club, and stuff like that. That's who that person is. Those aren't the type of people that I attract. I attract players and clients who understand that the NFL is a means to a greater end.

Eb- Who are some top African American agents besides yourself?
RL- There are a couple of them out there but you don't hear about them because for the most part a lot of agents stay behind the curtain. You don't see most of them in the limelight. Without mentioning their names, players like Larry Fitzgerald, I believe he has a black agent. Donovan McNabb has a black agent. So you don't hear about those guys, but you look at the players, and you say wow, these players are well behaved, these players are very business savvy, and they know the opportunity that they have in front of them. Then you say and they are represented by some African American business men and that's impressive.

Eb-Having a dream job there are still challenges you have to face that the world doesn't know. They only show the glory side of the biz, what are some challenges you face?
RL- Yeah people see the red carpet stuff, and that's a culmination of hours and hours of hard work in the office. Tons of phone calls, tons of negotiations, tons of hanging up on people and getting hung up on. There is so much that goes into deals and representing these guys. There isn't enough time in the day to get through everything we need to do to represent these players so I work 24hours a day. Whether I'm in my office, or on the plane, or on a commercial shoot, its a 24 hour a day job and it never stops.

Eb-Regular people have access to celebs and athletes that they never had before because of mediums like Twitter. You and a couple of your clients are on twitter so how do you as an agent try to make sure they are using those mediums to their advantage because what they put out there can make or break them?
RL- I let my guys know hey, everything that you say can and will be held against you. So use some judgment and some common sense with everything you say. If you use that as a rule of thumb no one can ever attack you. People can always twist your words around in the media but if you're doing the right thing to begin with, no harm can really come of it. You have the myspace thing, you have facebook, the twitter, all these outlets are to benefit these athletes and even me. If I need a message to get out about my client, its easy to put out amongst the millions of people on twitter. Everyone can get the truth versus something that a media source heard about these guys.

Eb- What kind of advice would you give someone that is trying to break into the business?
RL- I would tell them don't do it, it ain't worth your time. (Laughs)I don't need anymore competition in this business. (Laughs) No but what I would tell them to do is to go to Law School and learn about contracts. Learn the nuances of business. It's great to have an undergraduate degree but you have no experience in work or business at all, you really need some more backdrops so maybe go get a MBA. Then try to break into the field by interning with somebody. This industry is so competitive and people want to get into it so much that internships aren't paid. So you have be able to say I don't care if I have a 3month internship and I won't get paid because its the experience that I'm getting that is my payment. Also be ready to work 12-15 hours a day because that's what it's going to take.

To get more on the day to day of what its like to be a sports agent follow Rob on twitter:


The NFL Chick said...

Great interview. Mr. London is a twitter buddy as mine as well, so it's good to get an inside look at his career. Good job guys!

(fŭng'kē) [blak] [chik] said...

Rob is great..professionally and off hours! I'm glad to call him a friend!

Pigskin Loving Lady said...

I remember thinking I wanted to be a sports agent but I quickly came to my senses. It looks glamorous buts it a hard job.

Glad to see a brother making it happen.

Great Job EB!!

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